Abortion debate huddles in Parliament

Kandjemuni Kamuiiri

The much anticipated Parliamentary debate on legalizing abortion in Namibia could fail to materialize this year, with the National Assembly confirming that the motion, which lapsed last year, had not been re-tabled and thus not scheduled to be debated by the house.

This comes after Deputy Minister of Health, Ester Muinjangue who tabled the legalization of abortion last year, had maintained that the discussion will happen at the beginning of the year when the Parliament reopens for 2021.

“As far as I am concerned the matter was still up for discussion, the motion has not lapsed, it is before standing committee and I am waiting for the House to revert back to me,” Muinjangue said when quizzed this week on the progress of the debate.

However, information received by Windhoek Observer from National Assembly spokesperson, David Nahogandja, shows that the matter has actually lapsed on the standing committees.

“The matter is not before discussion in any committees of the Parliament.”

According to Nahogandja, Muinjangue only tabled the motion to be discussed but not debated.

“If Honourable Muinjangue would like the motion to be debated in the Parliament she should have motivated or indicated as such,” Nahogandja said.

“In terms of the Rule 24 (b) of the Standing Rules and Orders of the National Assembly the motion lapsed on the 8th of July 2020. For it to appear in the order papers again, the mover needs to re-table it if she feels the House needs to give it further attention.”

“Parliament received two petitions of which one is for and the other against the legalization of marijuana in 2019 and as the house explained it last year, it took time to constitute the committees due to Covid-19. He continues to state that some of these petitions were not dealt with by the previous parliament therefore they were referred to the parliament committee towards the end of last year, which also did not take place due to the regulations of Covid-19.”

Currently abortion is only legal in Namibia in cases of conception from rape or incest or if the mother’s life is in danger as certified by doctors.

The position is in line with the apartheid era of Abortion and Sterilization Act of South Africa of (1975), which Namibia inherited at its independence in 1990.

South Africa has already done away with the old Act, making abortion legal in the neighboring country.

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